Live music has the power to make you transcend. Whether you’re going to see your favorite band or checking out an emerging artist on a whim, nothing quite beats getting to unleash all of your pent-up energy and angst. Luckily our readers agreed when we asked them to name the best live bands of all time, as the answers were overwhelmingly broad across genre. Some looked toward the past, citing Queen and Led Zeppelin. Others were rooted firmly in the present, naming Turnstile, Foo Fighters, and Fall Out Boy. Either way, it feels like a universal truth that there’s no greater feeling than attending a gig that ends up being life-affirming.
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From Bring Me the Horizon to Green Day, find the top fan picks ranked below.
5. Bring Me the Horizon
Bring Me the Horizon’s ascent to headliner status has been nothing short of spectacular, as they’re easily one of the greatest live acts coming out of the U.K. Onstage, the Sheffield crew unleash brutality and theatricality that make their songs sound massive, from their late 2000s classics to their futuristic rippers. Their live show has become a full-blown spectacle, complete with vivid visuals, apocalyptic interludes, and pummeling riffs. It culminates in a cathartic, emotional experience, one that means as much to the band as it does to the fans.
4. twenty one pilots
twenty one pilots offer plenty of zany theatrics when they play live. From striking light shows and outfit changes to Tyler Joseph zip-lining through the crowd or singing from the top of a burning car, the Columbus, Ohio giants put on a predictably good performance that makes their fans want more. Their complex concepts, showmanship, and anthemic songs have proven to be a good fit for bigger venues over the years, as the band constantly find ways to top themselves and win over more crowds.
Paramore stunned on their latest tour. From the band introducing different guests — including Steph Curry, Billie Eilish, and Lil Uzi Vert — to sing “Misery Business” with Hayley Williams to bringing along their friends Bloc Party and Genesis Owusu, this is a band that know the legacy that they’re leaving behind and are bettering it with every show. The funkier cuts from their last two albums are a blast to hear live, whereas their older material sends fans wild with nostalgia. Though they had to cut the North American leg of their This Is Why run short, it’s only a matter of time before they hit the road again and debut some new songs.
2. My Chemical Romance
For years, new fans lamented being unable to see My Chemical Romance live before their 2013 split. That all changed when the band announced their internet-breaking return and played a sold-out show —the first of many — at The Forum in Los Angeles in 2019. Following pandemic delays, 2022 saw the band announce a massive tour, and they went all out. In addition to playing their first new song since 2014, “The Fountains of Decay,” the band debuted several viral looks by Emmy-winning designer Marina Toybina. From characters inspired by Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Joan of Arc to an homage to Princess Diana, MCR’s recent live shows were like witnessing a whole new era being born in real-time.
1. Green Day
Plenty of bands could have snagged the top spot, but Green Day are a clear favorite. From slinging mudballs at the crowd during Woodstock ’94 to their recent headline performance at When We Were Young, the punk trio have put on many memorable shows over the years. These days, their shows pack stadiums, but they clearly still yearn for those scrappier years, like when they played Dookie from front to back at a country club in Las Vegas and announced that they’ll hit the road with Rancid, the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Linda Lindas in 2024.